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Spokane, WA
This profile photo is my mom and me at the beach--she is 26 and I am about 18 months. LOVE the joy!! I am a mom of three and a teacher; being a teacher means I have to go back and cut the f-bombs. There were a few. Because Alzheimer's sucks badly. This blog, for nine years now--skipping a few while I was too cheap to buy my domain name-- helps me un-peel and process the endless layers of sad woven with weird and--impossibly--comedy.

Friday, April 7, 2017

"My mom wouldn't be caught dead in that shirt"

Note: this was a draft that finished today but that was written in late January.

The published obituary in my hometown newspaper last weekend stated that my mother had been cremated. That's actually not true.  Lynn's body is still being...stored in a refrigerated room. When I went to the funeral home to help complete paperwork to have the cremation happen, I stayed in my car in the parking lot for ten minutes before going in. Part of this was because I didn't want to come early; small talk with a mortician? But also I was hesitant to go inside because her dead body is there and I was scared about what I'd have to confront; about the finality of everything.

I was right to be hesitant. It sucked. Like, bad.
While sitting in my little Volkswagen I took photos of the sign outside the funeral parlor/crematorium.

What a weird word. I did it because my salvation was knowing that I could discuss it later by writing about it.
I realized that I needed to just make the movement. My hand on the door, the opening of said door, followed by my feet on the ground outside. This COULD NOT be the hardest part of Alzheimer's Disease. I visited her in a mental health lockdown unit once when she was between facilities. This should be nothing!
Except I knew this was the last time I'd spend time in a building with my mom.
Even with the delay in the parking lot I was still early. The mortuary director was so very kind. The kind of man my mom would have crushed on. About 6'3" thin and with ginger hair and mustache. Mid 50's. I could feel her spirit being flirtatious if she was hanging out above him while he examined her for..whatever needs to happen to prepare a body? And being aghast that she had been wearing adult diapers. At least she had decent pajamas. But that was one of the questions I wasn't prepared to answer:
Did I want to have my mother "dressed in a special outfit for the cremation?" I knew that some people had done that but I got the feeling it was because they had died suddenly, or had clothing that expressed who they were. My mom hadn't had a fashion preference..hadn't been able to assert any preference beyond gesturing for at least four years. I said "My mom hasn't picked out her own clothes for more than five years. And, furthermore, she would think this was a waste of money."
 Yes, we had some money for funeral expenses. But my gut told me no. I asked if she had underwear on and he said no. Then I was embarrassed for the spirit above her watching while the nice kind of handsome-ish mortician who was kind of her type did whatever work people do with corpses.
The word corpse is super weird because zombies.
He needed a current photo for the death certificate and I had one on my phone from the Mother's Day tea. That was the most flattering.
I said: 'For instance this shirt: I don't know where it came from, but she would never have picked it to wear. and she certainly wouldn't be caught dead in it." And I only half-heartedly meant to make the joke. Like I knew I'd made a pun by the time it came out of my mouth, but normally I'm conscious before then. It was too soon for humor, because I didn't even get a kick out of my joke and normally I think I am hilarious.
Thank God Mike showed up and navigated me through the rest of the visit. After I had answered specific questions and signed paperwork, I found that I couldn't get up from the chair. I had fought getting into the building and was fighting getting out.
"Ummm. I don't feel right leaving her. Should I go see her and say goodbye?"
Mike answered very gently that he didn't "think that would be at all helpful for me to see her that way." I believed him. I was then given kind of a hard sell about Jesus and Christianity that I only partly understood or wanted, but I did ask what he thought about how much of her was "present." Anyway, then I took a brochure about urns and we left. I was useless the rest of the day and some of the next day too.

Thoughtful young me

Thoughtful young me

Seventies chicks

Seventies chicks
Me and my mom Lynn, 1973